Today has been a landmark day for Formula One as it will be transmitted for the first time by Sky Sports from 2012. It was news that I woke up to this morning, as I know the F1 fans of this country did, too.
I'd like to start this week's column by saying how proud I am of the past two-and-a-half years of F1 coverage on the BBC.
I remember when the BBC first won the rights to show the sport and the aim of the whole team was to try to bring the viewers as close to possible to a sport that, at times, can seem very alien to the wider public.
My high point since 2009 was a letter I received at the end of Jenson Button's victorious Championship season from a lady who told me she was in the garage in Brazil as Jenson joined myself, David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan live on BBC One.
She said she couldn't believe how close she was to the raw emotion of Jenson finally achieving something he had strived for daily over the previous 20 years.
Just as I was wondering why she didn't come and speak to me, she signed off by saying 'so thank you for taking me right into the thick of the action from my living room' -and that letter reminded my why we do this job and how special live sports coverage can be. From Felipe Massa's accident two years ago to Sebastian Vettel's dominance today, we have loved getting under the skin of the sport, building the audiences to a 10-year high, capped off with the delight as we found out we'd won a BAFTA as we were about to fly home from the Turkish Grand Prix.
And I guess it is with that in mind that it is with a little sadness that we won't be covering every race live from 2012 onwards.
On the flip side, it is important to retain perspective and to point out that the BBC will still be the place to come to for broad, inclusive F1 coverage.
The BBC will have 10 live races from next season, and highlights of every race that isn't live, meaning that all the action central to the story of the season will be in High Definition on the BBC. Additionally, it's an interesting new journey for the sport. It is important to point out the BBC didn't want to lose Formula One, however a freezing of the licence fee actually means that keeping the sport is a success in itself.
Sky has done wonderful things with cricket and football, it offers incredible depth of the sports it covers and has already signalled its intention to take the sport to new levels. We'll see how a sport that is so dependent on big TV audiences will react to the news of partly non-free-to-air F1 coverage.
However, one thing remains. We will deliver some cracking drama as the rest of the pack chase Vettel and, as ever with these things, the real focus should be on the sport.And with only one win in his last three races, the focus should also be firmly on Vettel. The Championship leader comes into this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix with question marks hanging over him. Namely, can he win from anywhere but the front?
He has got only one F1 win to his name when starting anywhere but the front row of the grid. His team-mate Mark Webber has described the German as having a 'bit of mongrel' in him and Vettel needs that right now.
We need to see him show the ruthlessness of Fernando Alonso, the never-say-die attitude of Lewis Hamilton or the calmness under pressure that Jenson Button shows. As ever, I look forward to a large audience joining us.
They also had a statement from Bernie where he claimed that it 'was good for F1' and for those who were complaining that F1 was no longer completely being shown on free to air television 'it was out of my hands'
Most licence payers wanted rid of it all, we need to count ourselves lucky it's not all Sky.
http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/93455Whitmarsh said moves to take F1 off free-to-air could be viewed as a breach of the Concorde Agreement, with him claiming that there were clauses in the deal that ties the teams, Ecclestone and the FIA together that guarantees the sport's broadcast platform.
I only pay my licence fee for Top Gear and the F1, now I'm losing 50% of the F1? Why not cut one of the useless radio or TV channels nobody watches? Get rid of the dancing and the gaelic shit and see how much money you've saved to put towards F1. This will be the first season since I was a kid that I haven't followed all the way through.
Disappointed in Jake Humpty making excuses and trying to play it up. Be a fucking man and call it what we all think of it as Brundle is kind of doing.
What a shame. Today is a truly tragic day for Formula One in the UK. I don't buy that thing that Aston Martin saying that license payers wanted it gone. What, you're telling me that with 10 year high viewing figures of races this year, nobody in this country cares? I don't believe it. The sport's done so well in recent years after it switched to BBC from ITV.
I just fail to understand the logic at all. Surely there's other much better ways the BBC could have saved money. For instance, the approximate cost of F1 rights per year: ?45m. Approximate cost of BBC3 per year: ?115m - in which all that is shown is repeats. Why couldn't they have axed some shows that were getting very long in the tooth like goddamn Eastenders? Heck - I'll probably get birched and negative repped for saying this here, but who cares - I'd be perfectly happy to see an already small Top Gear series shrunk even more to 3 or 4 episodes a season if it meant it saved money.
Jake Humphrey has to toe the line and play it safe because he's a high profile presenter with the BBC and its events. Not only does he cover the Superbowls, he also does the Olympic and Commonwealth games coverage. He can't say what he thinks because he has to keep his job.
You've also got to keep in mind that the BBC has to keep in mind what it believes will pull in audience figures. Unfortunately at the moment reality shows are still incredibly popular with the masses so it has to cater to that audience in order to bring them in. The "i only pay my licence fee for such and such" excuse will only go so far when you keep in mind that the licence fee covers everything. what you like and more importantly what you don't like. the BBC still does a better job to catering to its audience than another channel like ITV, despite being free. all of its tv is just aimed in one direction. Reality and police shows.
If you want someone to blame, go blame Cameron and Murdoch. These two conspired to keep the BBC limited in what it can do and offer. They froze the licence fee meaning that shows have a limited budget. You only have to look at the mess of the announcement regarding Doctor Who's Seventh series to see that. The Tories and Murdoch have neutered the BBC to such a extent that Murdoch and his Sky lackeys can sweep in, offer more money for a sports event and take it from the viewers because Murdoch knows that despite some F1 fans being very vocal about losing free airing. Some will still fork out the money and pay for a Sky Sports subscription that will line his pockets.
We announced today that from next season the BBC will be sharing coverage of Formula 1 with Sky Sports.
There has been considerable reaction to the news so I feel it's important to explain some of the background behind what has happened.
The headline is that under a seven-year deal starting next season, we will be showing 10 of the races in the F1 calendar, plus the corresponding qualifying and practice sessions, live on BBC TV.
We will broadcast extended highlights for the rest of the grands prix just a few hours after the chequered flag has been waved. Sky will have live action from all races, qualifying and practice sessions.
There has been a great deal of unsettling speculation recently about F1 rights. Amid all the rumour and counter-rumour, our production and on-air team have shown huge professionalism, dedication and expertise to keep delivering the high quality output that has become the trademark of our coverage.
The speculation is now over. This new arrangement extends the BBC's commitment to F1 by a further five years - our existing contract, which gave us exclusive rights in the UK, was due to expire in 2013. But of course it does mean our coverage will not be as comprehensive as it has been in recent years.
So why are we sharing the coverage with Sky when up to now it had just been us?
Ultimately, of course, decisions about which media organisations get the chance to broadcast F1 are taken by Bernie Ecclestone's Formula 1 Management (FOM). But from the BBC's perspective the new set-up provided us with an opportunity to continue our association with this gripping sport, which has captured the imagination of our audiences since it returned to BBC screens in 2009, with viewing figures at a 10-year high this season.
And while our coverage from 2012 may not be as extensive as it has been up to now, the bare facts are that the BBC needs to save money. Given the financial circumstances in which we find ourselves, we believe this new deal offers the best outcome for licence-fee payers.
In a sense this partnership with Sky is another example of how the landscape of sports broadcasting has been transformed in recent years. There was a time when the BBC and other public service broadcasters could expect to televise all the big sports themselves. Now though we have a 'mixed economy', with some events on satellite while others are on terrestrial.
And although this may be the first time the BBC has shared Formula 1 with another broadcaster, there is a long-standing pattern of partnerships between free-to-air and pay TV to cover major sports. So the Champions League can be watched on both Sky and ITV; US Masters golf is now shared between ourselves and Sky (with audiences for that event up this year); and then of course there is the Premier League - with live games on Sky and ESPN, while our ever-popular highlights programme Match of the Day keeps football fans entertained on a Saturday night.
This new F1 arrangement will allow us to tell the story of the whole F1 season for BBC viewers, while providing extended access to the biggest moments in the calendar: including the glamour of Monaco, the excitement of the last race of the season, plus the British grand prix at Silverstone, which remains one of the highlights of the UK's sporting summer.
In addition to our award-winning TV output, we will continue with our exclusive radio coverage on 5 Live and 5 Live Sports Extra as well as our comprehensive F1 website and mobile services and the regular broadcasts on BBC News outlets. We know F1 fans appreciate the extensive multi-platform coverage we offer and, as well as capturing those big moments on TV, we pledge to keep audiences up to date with all the news and action throughout the season, wherever they are.
You will appreciate these are early days, with much still to decide, including some of the detail around our own production. We will let you know as soon as there is more to say on that front - but in the meantime there is the small matter of the 2011 season to focus on.
Yes, that's exactly what I mean by not being a man. Not saying what you think because you're fearful of those you see as more powerful or important than you.
I can't really blame Sky, they run a business. I'd do the same in their position. It's the BBCs mandate, however, to provide the quality entertainment we want, and ditching the biggest most prestigious sport when from what others are saying it's getting the highest viewing figures for while, is failing that mandate.
As others mentioned there's money that can be saved elsewhere - there's a lot of useless fat trimming the BBC's quality broadcasting. I mentioned the "gaelic shit". JHS mentioned the repeats (why are repeats even shown on TV in an age with iPlayer?). To continue the meat analogy, instead of trimming fat they've hacked off a big chunk of the quality meat.
The BBC's budget has been so painfully restricted that its very likely, despite its popularity it just couldn't afford F1 anymore.